[Presented by YO Home Sperm Test™]
Interview with Dr. Kenan Omurtag, on Male-Factor Infertility and the YO Home Sperm Test.
Research has shown that at least 20 to 30% of couples seeking help with conceiving experience infertility from only male factors. Another 20 to 30% of couples experience combined male- and female-factor infertility. It’s more important than ever for men to take an active role in trying to resolve any obstacles on the path to family.
At-home sperm kits have been a tool for several years to help men measure their sperm count, and they are now even more effective. Some also measure a key fertility influence, sperm motility (movement).
YO Home Sperm Test offers a smartphone-based, at-home kit that helps men get a measure on their moving sperm count—fast. Pregnantish talked with Kenan Omurtag, MD, an Assistant Professor in Reproductive Endocrinology and infertility at the Washington University St. Louis School of Medicine, Department of OBGYN, about male-factor infertility and at-home sperm test kits like YO.
What is male factor infertility?
When a man’s semen analysis shows abnormal parameters, in volume, concentration, motility (movement), and/or morphology (shape). When there is unexplained infertility, semen parameters are checked to see if results are below the reference range.
Why is it so important to talk about male factor infertility?
[With men being such an important part of the equation,] if we can recognize a male-factor influence sooner, we can treat for it and help couples conceive.
What affects male-factor infertility?
There are a number of things…there can be anatomical obstructions, nerve damage from surgery in the pelvis area, genetic issues such as cystic fibrosis (resulting in an inability to release sperm), or infections (such as STDs or mumps). There can be acquired/environmental issues such as if the man is taking testosterone (for tiredness or other issues, without proper education on the effects), or issues related to narcotic use, marijuana use, or cigarette smoking. There are other influences. The problem may also be unexplained.
With women, we know that as the age of a woman increases, the number and quality of eggs decrease. With men, as the age of a man increases, the quantity of sperm doesn’t necessarily change, but the quality changes—there’s often less motility (movement) and the morphology (shape) may work against insemination. We tend to tell people that men over 50 may have a male fertility issue.
In your experience, who typically is the motivator for testing?
It is the usually the woman who drives the testing for herself and her partner. She may be doing her own monitoring, while a man may be resistant to getting his sperm checked or just doesn’t know he can or should check.
Home tests allow for people to screen themselves, sooner rather than later, in the privacy of their own homes.
At what point in a couple’s fertility journey should the male test his fertility?
If a couple is trying to conceive (having unprotected sex two to three times per week) for 12 months, yet is unsuccessful, that is the definition of infertility. A man needs to get his sperm checked. If a woman is over 35, the couple should not spend more than six months trying without considering testing or help.
I’ve had some patients who spend even 18 months trying before coming to the doctor. That can make a big difference in success rate (with IVF) if the woman is over 35.
That’s why semen analysis, and at-home kits like YO, can be a helpful tool to determine if there’s a problem with male-factor infertility.
A woman has biological signals she can monitor naturally—tracking her ovulation dates, watching her menstrual cycle for irregularity, or taking her temperatures. Men don’t have that.
Other than if men produce no sperm, there’s no biological sign that gives them a clue that something is wrong. We should give men something to do to see if they’re part of the problem. With an at-home test, if it shows a problem, men can triage to treatment sooner.
It’s important to note that YO is not a replacement for [in-office] semen analysis. It’s a tool that acts as a screening test, to see if a man has a male-factor infertility problem and should take the next step to see a doctor.
What should couples look for in an at-home sperm test?
They should look for a test that is FDA-approved, easily accessible (in a store on via online), offers more than yes/no regarding results, and accuracy. YO, for example, offers that, with results that show the number of moving sperm.
What can a man do if he gets worrisome results from the YO test?
He should probably repeat it. YO comes with two slides, for two tests (ejaculates). Even if he does retest, if he’s had one abnormal finding, he should consider reaching out to the couple’s fertility doctor or other trusted doctor.
Retesting makes sense because you want to make sure that there wasn’t an error in the collection or analysis process. To repeat the test, the man should wait at least 48 to 72 hours between tests.
Men should know that the sperm ejaculated today may have been affected by what was going on in their bodies two to three months before, such as if they were sick and had been taking narcotics.
In general, it’s important for couples to know that human reproduction is not very efficient [and may need help].
And, we need to remember that when a couple goes through infertility, it’s not just the female partner who needs testing and/or medical intervention.
Get more information about YO Home Sperm Test here.
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